Polish MMA took some hits in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and some fantastic fights from KSW 53: Fight Code were lost in March. When things looked bleakest, the top promotion in the region bounced back with five stacked cards to end the year. For context, that’s just one event less than their 2019 offering, so this impressive comeback is something to be recognized.
With a total of 40 fights, there was plenty of data to extrapolate, including six championship contests. The analysis has been conducted and MMA-Prospects can now announce the inaugural MMA-Prospects yearly KSW award winners.
KSW Knockout of the Year
Winner – Mamed Khalidov (def. Scott Askham), KSW 55
After their first encounter, few believed Polish legend Mamed Khalidov (35-7-2) would emerge victorious from his championship rematch against Scott Askham (19-5). The Englishman won his KSW Middleweight title against Michał Materla (29-8) in 2019 and went on to beat Khalidov in a non-title match in his previous outing.
Not only was the 40-year-old legend Khalidov not ready to lie down, but he also wasn’t ready to stop being an icon of Polish MMA. Khalidov needed just 36 seconds to land the most incredible KO of his career; a flying switch kick that no one, especially Scott Askham, had expected.
Khalidov vacated the belt in 2018 to compete against 205lbs champion Tomasz Narkun (18-3) throughout 2018, so it’s an incredible moment for the promotion to see their biggest star hoisting gold above his head once again.
KSW Submission of the Year
WINNER – Abusupiyan Magomedov (def. Cezary Kęsik), KSW 57
There was a considerable buzz around KSW upon the news that Abusupiyan Magomedov (24-4-1) had signed. The German made a name for himself fighting stateside, competing in PFL’s tournaments against some of the best in the world, even reaching the finals of 2019 tournament.
Magomedov’s last fight in PFL came late in 2018, and two years later he made his debut in another massive promotion, this time against a returning Polish standout Cezary Kęsik (12-1).
It was an extremely impressive performance, but the vice grip high angle guillotine came out of nowhere, and Kęsik found himself waking up looking at the lights after being put to sleep.
KSW Fight of the Year
Winner – Michał Materla vs. Aleksandar Ilić, KSW 55
When this fight was announced, some said Aleksandar Ilić (12-4) didn’t deserve a shot at a legendary fighter like Materla. Ilić had entered the promotion on fire with a brutal high kick KO over fan-favorite Damian Janikowski (5-3), but entered the contest off of a loss to Cezary Kęsik.
Not only did Ilić prove that he deserved to be in there, he proved that on another night he’d have left with his hand raised after dropping Materla early and landing some beautiful shots, punctuated by a picture-perfect head kick.
Michał Materla wasn’t going down without a fight, though, coming back in the second round and implementing his grappling. He transitioned to the crucifix position, landing elbows that would make a young Gary Goodridge proud.
The referee had no option but to step in, and Materla came through the fight hurt, bruised but victorious.
KSW Prospect of the Year
Winner – Mateusz Legierski
An unspoken rule amongst some of the staff at MMA-Prospects is that those true early-career prospects are usually found under 5 fights. This was the case in deciding the winner of the Cage Warriors Prospect of the Year.
However, KSW has established themselves to the point that they rarely bring in fighters that haven’t proven themselves in the cage. Only 3 fighters qualified under this ruleset; former boxer Izu Ugonoh (1-0), Justyna Haba (3-1), and Robert Ruchała (4-0). Just outside of this criteria sat Mateusz Legierski (7-0).
Taking everything into context, the analysts involved in this awards process decided to extend the criteria to include Legierski. Despite stiff competition from Ruchała, Legierski’s impressive debut against wrestling standout Francisco Barrio (7-2) and experience as a former undefeated Oktagon welterweight champion made him too hard to ignore in this category.
KSW New Signing of the Year
Winner – Abusupiyan Magomedov
Our first double-winner at MMA-Prospects, this was an easy decision to make. Earlier in the year, fans could have sworn Andrzej Grzebyk (17-4) had this in the bag. The two-weight FEN champion was a huge get for the Polish giants and his KSW 53 stoppage against Tomasz Jakubiec (10-3) only proved this further.
However, Grzebyk suffered a broken leg as the result of a well-timed check against Marius Žaromskis (23-9) in November proved to be a big blow to his budding KSW career.
Magomedov, a PFL tournament finalist, stepped in with just 12 days left in the year and stopped one of the brightest prospects KSW had on its roster. A statement like that, mixed in with a wealth of experience beyond his years, makes Abus Magomedov the biggest KSW signing of 2020.
KSW Fighter of the Year
Winner – Mateusz Gamrot
A man that needs no introduction to KSW fans and as worthy a winner of this award as you could find, Mateusz Gamrot (17-1) had a career-high performance as he ended his trilogy with Norman Parke (28-7-1) in brutal fashion, before defending his lightweight belt against Marian Ziółkowski (22-8-1) in August.
With a KSW record of 13 wins and 1 No Contest, Gamrot left the promotion as both featherweight and lightweight champion, joining the US giant, the UFC, in October.
While his first professional loss came in his UFC debut — a split decision against Guram Kutateladze (11-2) — his two wins in two months in KSW can’t be ignored as Gamrot was the lynch-pin in bringing MMA back to the people of Poland at a time where everyone needed a distraction